Xiaomi and Leica, today, announced a long-term strategic partnership that would see the two brands strive to provide “customers a new era of mobile photography.” The duo is currently working on a flagship that would apparently boast of “exceptional image quality, classic Leica aesthetics, and unrestricted creativity,” as per a joint press release sent out to the media. The phone, which is likely the long-rumoured Xiaomi 12 Ultra, will launch sometime in July though it isn’t immediately clear if it would get a wide global release or be exclusive to China.
Whatever be the case, the Xiaomi-Leica partnership has been subject of many rumour mills for a while now. This would technically be Leica’s second such outing, following a close and successful partnership with Huawei. That partnership has produced some compelling phones and outstanding mobile cameras, but Huawei’s current predicament with the US government has made these phones all but useless outside of China unless you’re willing to live without Google apps and services. Joining hands with Xiaomi gives Leica another opportunity to showcase its brand and technology, globally. Xiaomi is meanwhile likely to benefit from Leica’s years of expertise to better tune its cameras for a global audience.
As is usually the case, the duo isn’t sharing any granular details of what the partnership entails, in the real world, at least at the time of writing except that this cooperation will provide “a strong boost to Xiaomi’s imaging strategy.”
“Leica and Xiaomi are both global premium brands and during this unprecedented deep cooperation process, both parties have successively worked on the goal of providing customers a new era of mobile photography,” Matthias Harsch, CEO of Leica Camera AG said, adding “we are convinced that the first jointly developed imaging flagship smartphone makes the pioneering progress of both companies visible.”
Xiaomi isn’t the only Chinese brand to partner a camera icon like this. OnePlus has, similarly, partnered with Swedish camera maker Hasselblad to “co-develop” the camera systems seen inside its flagship phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro (review). OnePlus had said last year that it had earmarked a $150 million investment to setup four major research and development labs around the world, including two imaging labs based in the United States and Japan, under the partnership. Xiaomi does not make any mention of any close R&D in today’s announcement.